Flo sank down into tattered sofa. The Bolita Man had just left. The man always talked too much. She had so much washing to get done and that man had to come a-knocking on her door. Flo didn’t believe in gambling and she told him that every time he showed up – which was once a week, right after payday at the Naval Yard because he knows folks has got the money then for such foolishness. The Bolita Man was sweet on little Jo – that’s how come he talked so blame much. Damn Bolita man, she thought. She told him every week that Jo was only twelve years old and she sure as hell wouldn’t take up with a scraggly little Cuban man selling lottery tickets.
But Flo knew that was a lie. The only reason she knew Jo wouldn’t take up with the likes of the Bolita Man was because she knew Jo was smitten with her boy, Ernest. Not that she approved of that match either, mind you. Ernest just turned twenty and had been off these six months in London, England. Flo smiled to herself as she pictured Ernest in his Air Force uniform. “I reckon I can understand why Jo is so taken with him.” she said to herself.
Ernest had come home yesterday. He came a-strutting down the back alley of their little house on Watson Street looking like his Daddy used to look when he would come home from hunting, all puffed up with pride and knowing how good he looked. Flo still ached inside remembering the loss of that man. And she ached even more with the loss to Ernest of knowing his Daddy – Bill never even knew Ernest was coming when he died out there in them swamps.
Anyway, Ernest and Josephine didn’t know Flo was watching when Ernest turned that corner into the alley looking so fine. Jo was lending her a hand with the young-un’s and had taken them out for a stroll in the carriage. Just last week Flo had told her daughter-in-law, Connie, “That Josephine is such an itty-bitty pretty thing but developing too damn fast in my opinion.” And it was true. Men’s eyes took to rolling back in their damn heads whenever Josephine Garcia went strolling by. Ernest hadn’t seen that little girl for several years – he being off to the war and her still at least looking like a child when he left. So Flo stood on the back porch and watched from the window as he rounded the corner in his smart Air Force uniform, head cocked to one side and duffel bag thrown over his left shoulder. And she watched as Jo looked up from fussing with baby Tommy’s diaper and caught sight of that handsome soldier boy coming down that alley. Hell, the sight took even Flo’s breath away.
Flo figured there was nothing she could do about it. But it worried her fearsome. That little scrap of a child-woman didn’t have a chance. And neither did Ernest. Flo saw the whole thing though they didn’t know she knew. And she figured she had done lived long enough on this world to know those two fool children done fell in love with each other and they don’t even know it yet.
K. Y. Hamilton, BA, MA - Copyright 2004, 2006